City of Residence: Warner Robins
Occupation: Vicar, Mount Calvary Lutheran Church
QUESTION: The Helping Hands Christmas Dinner is coming up again, spearheaded by Mount Calvary Lutheran Church.
ANSWER: It will be Christmas Day from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at Warner Robins First United Methodist Church, 205 North Davis Drive in Warner Robins.
QUESTION: Whos the dinner for?
ANSWER: Anyone who needs a meal on Christmas, whether theyre homeless, lower income, people who dont have family around anymore to share a Christmas meal, shut-ins--really, its for anyone who needs to or would like to come.
QUESTION: Do you have to do anything ahead of time to come to the meal?
ANSWER: Not really. A lot of people come as groups through area agencies and we would like to know about groups by this Friday, but a lot are individuals or families and will just come Christmas Day. Thats OK.
QUESTION: You mentioned shut-ins so you must make deliveries.
ANSWER: Yes, and if someone would like to arrange a delivery they could let us know by Friday as well so we can plan that. Well probably serve 150 meals or more on-site this year and make 250-plus deliveries so well actually be having more deliveries. Were partnering with Meals-on-Wheels which doesnt operate on Christmas.
QUESTION: Thats a good number of meals either way.
ANSWER: Its actually a little lower than previous years, but thats probably due to the fact we didnt have the Christmas dinner last year. Christmas fell on Sunday and we werent able to use the space. Well probably see an influx of more people this year during the final week.
QUESTION: But again, people can just walk in without previous notice, right?
ANSWER: They can. Well have a sign outside the church.
QUESTION: How do you get the word out about the dinner?
ANSWER: We have flyers at churches, various agencies and other locations. School counselors know and help spread the word. People can let others know if they think they may benefit from the meal.
QUESTION: How many years has there been a Helping Hands dinner?
ANSWER: This is the ninth.
QUESTION: Each year the meal is managed by Mount Calvarys vicar.
ANSWER: Thats right. A Lutheran vicar is really an intern, a student pastor who is at the church for a year from July to July. The meal was originated by a vicar here and has been carried on by one since.
QUESTION: Thats probably a bigger project than a lot of vicars get in their year away from school. Did you know what was coming your way?
ANSWER: The vicar who preceded me sent me an e-mail with the rundown on some things and told me there was a thumb-drive in the desk drawer with information about the Christmas meal. I didnt know until I got here what it really was. Its a pretty big undertaking.
QUESTION: Worth it?
ANSWER: Absolutely. Im really glad to get to do this. Its a joy and a privilege from God to be able to serve people in this capacity. So often you go through school and youre not thinking so much of the community around you--youre so focused on school. This helps you keep your focus on people who really have needs, people without means that we can be a blessing to. Warner Robins is kind of shaded by the Air Force and we dont think of people here being down and out but there are more than you would think.
QUESTION: It has become a community effort, hasnt it?
ANSWER: Most of our volunteers are from Mount Calvary but there are a lot who arent and we do work with numerous groups and agencies. A lot of people call each year and want to be part of doing something for others on Christmas. Of course, Warner Robins First United Methodist is involved and let us use their facilities. Theyre perfect.
QUESTION: Whats on the menu?
ANSWER: Turkey, ham, yams, dressing, gravy, deserts, a regular traditional Christmas meal.
QUESTION: Is there a program.
ANSWER: Were doing that a little different this year. Were not going to have so much of an organized program as have people around to talk and fellowship and to share the Gospel.
QUESTION: If someone wants to come and bring a group or just let you know ahead of time theyre coming, how do they contact you?
ANSWER: Call the church at 922-1418 and ask for Vicar Ryan.
QUESTION: And volunteer, is it ever too late to volunteer?
ANSWER: People come on the day and offer to help, but if you can, you could let us know ahead of time. Use that same number.
Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.